THE emotion was inescapable.
Having just pulled off the upset of the season the unbridled joy on the face of every Magpies player, family member and relation was impossible to miss.
Collingwood had just sealed a memorable win to secure the first spot in a Grand Final, with the Tigers just metres away in another room, licking their wounds.
Outspoken president Eddie McGuire marched triumphantly in first, declaring: “There’s still one more to go.”
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Then came coach Nathan Buckley – a once maligned figure on the cusp of losing his job – who shared a special moment with his two sons. They embraced as the room watched on, gripped and fixated.
The Buckley offspring continued to high five each in comer: coach, physio, runner. Then the players walked in resolutely to rapturous applause.
There were feel good stories everywhere you looked.
Adam Treloar wiped away tears, as he searched the room for girlfriend and Diamonds netballer, Kim Ravaillon. A return this season – after injuring both of his hamstrings – seemed impossible, yet there he was.
The Cox family, fresh off a flight from Texas, were in awe of their son, Mason, who had ripped the game apart with three goals and 11 marks. How was it that such a latecomer to the game had been one of the standout performers?
Then there was redemption king Josh Thomas, renaissance man Chris Mayne and miracle worker, Tyson Goldsack.
Having ruptured his ACL earlier this year, the veteran defender had no right to play again this year let alone entertain a Grand Final berth.
“This is – I don’t know how to put it – I wanted to return to play this year and I got there,” Goldasck told foxfooty.com.au.
“I didn’t think it would be finals, I didn’t think it would be going into a Grand Final.
“I’m still trying to process it.”
Goldsack’s fortune has been the reverse of some of his brothers in defence. Matthew Scharenberg’s season was cut short by an ACL injury, as was Lydnen Dunn’s.
The latter wept as the enormity of the situation dawned on him.
“Dunny’s in (the rooms) in tears because he understands what he’s missing out on,” Buckley said.
“He’s got his pride for the group…but he’s hurt.
“We’ll continue to shine the light on the roles of different players in our program.”
McGuire is always larger than life.
While he has been criticised for the length of his tenure at Collingwood, it’s his passion that has kept him there – and he couldn’t hide his love for the black and white after their 39-point victory.
“It’s just seriously a magic moment in our clubs history,” McGuire told Fox Footy.
“For Nathan Buckley to do what he did, to go through everything he has gone through, everyone in the organisation under pressure, and under the furnace that only Collingwood can attract, stand side-by-side. We sing it, we mean it and here we are – one to go.”
As one of the biggest clubs in the country Collingwood not only craves success, but demands it.
And in finding the fun in footy – as epitomised by the coach himself – the Magpies have once again made it to the big dance.
“Forget Christmas, forget everything else, if you live in Melbourne and you’re a Pie, this is it,” McGuire said.
“You’re in Grand Final week, tomorrow is the second best day of the year, next Sunday is the best one after that.”